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219 Dilemmas around risk communication with patients with limited health literacy in the context of shared decision making
  1. Romy Richter1,
  2. Brian J Zikmund-Fisher2,3,4,
  3. Danielle M Muscat5,
  4. Olga Damman6,7,
  5. Jesse Jansen1
  1. 1Department of Family Medicine, Care and Public Health Research Institute (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands
  2. 2Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  3. 3Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  4. 4Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  5. 5Sydney Health Literacy Lab, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Quality of Care, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  7. 7Amsterdam UMC Location Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Public and Occupational Health, Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Balancing the pros and cons of medical options requires considering both possible outcomes and their probabilities. Thus, risk communication is an integral part of shared decision making. However, risk communication is challenging to implement in practice. On the one hand, patients need risk information to enable better decision making. On the other hand, because medical decisions are complex, patients are at risk of information overload. The risk of information overload is especially concerning for populations with limited health literacy.

In this symposium we will discuss important components of health literacy, numeracy, and patient preferences and comprehension as to risk information in shared decision making. Specifically, what do we know from research and practice? What are the needs of patients with limited health literacy around risk communication? Is detailed quantitative risk communication always necessary? How can we best communicate quantitative risk to patients with limited health literacy, both orally in consultations and visually in information materials such as decision aids? How can we help patients build skills for risk communication (e.g., numerical, graphical)? Four experts in risk communication, health literacy, numeracy, and shared decision making will present insights into these challenging topics followed by a panel discussion.

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